There’s nothing like a pair of over plucked brows to instantly date your look and age you far beyond your years.
Chalk it up to trauma overhang for anyone who lived through the 90s and attempted to shape the hairy bits above the eyes with wobbly pre-teen hands, but now we’re all about the organic look, with a little pruning to highlight and celebrate our natural shapes.
While there are all sorts of brow products on the market - brow-boosting formulas, promades, mascara-like brow wands, even stencils for the time-pressed and expertise-poor - the most reliable we’ve found is the humble eyebrow pencil.
Easy to use (and even easier to blend out mistakes), eyebrow pencils offer fool-proof usability. The only technique you’ll need to hone are your strokes - start at the middle of your arch and shape out towards the tip before heading back to the browhead (closest to your nose) to avoid being too heavy-handed. For a classic, natural look to wear every day, the key is to fade in and fade back out.
The only downside is that sub-par pencils have the unfortunate tendency to wear off, especially in very hot weather - but a good fixing spray will see to that.
Practically every makeup brand worth its salt has an eyebrow product in their line-up, but which ones are truly worth the money?
We’ve rounded up the best of the bunch below to help you achieve the perfect brows, bring more light into the eye area, and give your face a gentle lift - no surgery required.
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MUA Brow Define Micro Eyebrow Pencil
It may surprise you to learn that this budget buy is one of our highest-rated pencils, owing largely to the fact that MUA has perfected the formula. With a slightly creamy consistency, it’s a dream to work with and brushes out wonderfully thanks to the spoolie helpfully attached to the other end of the pencil.
When it’s this cheap, it makes sense to stock up on a few: we’re not ashamed to admit we did our fair share of sulking when we reached the end. It’s also a worthy budget option for anyone who wants to try a brow product without denting their finances.
Fair warning: it does fade slightly in warm climates or after a full day’s wear so best to apply a setting spray or clear gel over the top to seal your brows into place.
As well as blonde and brunette shades, there’s also a grey option available too, great for anyone with salt and pepper locks.
Buy now £3.00, Superdrug
Huda Beauty Bomb Brows Microshade Pencil
If your heart yearns for superlative brows; shaped, shaded and defined to utter perfection, there’s only one name you need to know, and that’s Huda Beauty. The Insta-made star (50m+ on the platform alone) is all about the highly polished, ultra glam look, from full, fluttery lashes, blemish-eradicating foundation and dramatic lipstick.
She’s big on brows too, and has the Beauty Bomb Brows Microshade Pencil in eight shades to sculpt yours to precision. The retractable 0.9mm tip is designed to offer the microbladed look without anywhere near the pain or expense. It’s waterproof, smudge-proof and transfer-proof, so you can rest assured once on, it’ll stay put all day long.
Buy now £15.00, Cult Beauty
M.A.C Eye Brows Styler
Available in a choice of 15 shades, this clever little pen from M.A.C has everything you need to keep your brows groomed whether you’re defining them at your dressing table or you’re finessing your look on the go.
The pencil is self-propelling as well as self-sharpening (thank goodness: pencil sharpeners are for school children only), while the microfine tip allows you to make slender, hairlike strokes. The finer you go, the less likely you are to make mistakes. Once you’ve bolstered your brow’s borders and filled in the sparse bits, use the spoolie on the other end to brush out the hard lines .
Buy now £16.50, John Lewis
Laura Mercier Eye Brow Pencil
With a Ronseal-esque name, Laura Mercier gets to the point with this pencil - which comes in eight shades, although they are incredibly popular so when you spot stock in your shade, act quickly.
Forgive what we said about pencil sharpeners earlier, they do come in handy, especially for a wax/ powder formula like this which requires shaving down to keep the tip hair-like thin. Luckily, the brand throws in one of these with a purchase too. It glides on without pulling at the skin, making it easy to use when you’re in a hurry and blends like a dream with the help of the attached spoolie.
This may very well be the last brow pencil you’ll ever buy.
Buy now £21.00, Harvey Nichols
Charlotte Tilbury Brow Lift Super Model Brow
Available in five shades from blonde to black, beauty queen Charlotte Tilbury’s brow pencil could be your first step to bringing unruly brows back into line.
The angled pencil makes it simple to fill in gaps using short, regular strokes (remember it’s easier to build up slowly than going too hard and having to start from scratch) to imitate natural hair. Finish by combing through your brows with a clean spoolie and seal with clear gel if the weather is really warm but rest assured this has plenty of staying power as is.
Buy now £22.50, Charlotte Tilbury
Benefit Precisely, My Brow
There are 12 shades to choose from in Benefit’s bestselling Precisely, My Brow range, from the fairest blonde to chocolatey brown and deep grey - so everyone should be able to find a colour that fits. The pencil’s core is ultra-fine, giving you greater control of your strokes, and once applied, will stay put for 12 hours so expect big brow energy for the long term. As for the formula, it’s rich, blendable and easy to work with, making it a beauty bag entry for veteran makeup artists and newbies alike.
Buy now £23.50, Cult Beauty
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Pen
Build overplucked brows back up to full strength with pro make up artist favourite, Anastasia Beverly Hills. The brand’s brow pen features a fine tip that allows you to create super thin strokes to resemble real hair. If you’re lacking in the brow-front from the off,
Long-wearing and waterproof, your brows should last until you apply cleanser at the end of your day to remove them. Available in nine shades, from blonde to granite.
Honorable mention also to the brand’s Brow Wiz retractable pencil that comes with a spoolie fixed to the end for easy brushing (£23).
Buy now £23.00, Boots
Valentino Beauty Brow Trio Triple Ended brow filler
Frame your face with 3D brows crafted with Valentino’s triple use pen. Not only will it brush your strands into submission with the attached comb, but you can fill and define them with a liquid ink micro-liner and a flat-tip pencil respectively. Is that all bases covered? We reckon so.
Buy now £36.00, Selfridges
Fenty Beauty Brow MVP Sculpting Pencil Styler
If you’re quite happy with the shape and colour of your brows but think you could use some polishing, head to Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty where this universal brow styler is waiting to jump into your online basket.
Rather than a coloured pencil, a retractable wax sits on one end to smooth bushy brows into place. Sweat- and water-resistant, you’ll come home at the end of the day to find your brows are exactly where you put them in the morning. Angle hairs towards your temple for a groomed look, or use the mini comb on the other end to fan them up for a feathered vibe. This product is 100 per cent cruelty free and transparent, and is made for all skin types and hair colours.
Buy now £18.00, Harvey Nichols
Rimmel Professional Eyebrow Pencil 1.4g
Another budget buy to sling into your makeup bag, you can rely on Rimmel’s brow pencil to get your arches back where they’re supposed to be, aided by the miniature brush attached to the lid head. Simply brush them out, fill in the blank spots and blend out with the brush again for a soft look with no hard edges.
Buy now £4.49, Feelunique
Westman Atelier Bonne Brow Defining Pencil
Gucci Westman’s brand draws on her expertise as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after makeup artist. The newly launched Bonne Brow Defining Pencil is a testament to that with its innovative dual-end construction so you have a retractable pencil for you filling and defining needs, but also a dry spoolie to allow for better precision and to clean up any mistakes. It comes in four hues and glides right onto the brows without creating too deep or graphic lines that can appear unnatural. The formula is vegan and the pigments are naturally derived.
How best to apply? The master Westman explains: “Start by brushing brows upward with dry spoolie, following natural hair direction. Hold the pencil vertically from the lower corner of the nose and follow the lineup; this is where brows should begin. Tilt the pencil diagonally from the same starting point to the outer corner of your eye and follow the line to your temple; this is where brows should end. Apply gentle, baby strokes to fill where needed, the lighter the touch the better.”
Buy now £35.00, Cult Beauty